Dashing George to spring surprise in Greatwood Gold Cup
Paul Nicholls has won the Greatwood Gold Cup at Newbury six times in the past eight seasons. Top weight Rebel Rebellion owes his place at the top of the handicap to his victory in the Grand Sefton Chase at Aintree in December.
Ryan Mahon was on board that day and takes the ride again on Saturday. He ran a fair race behind Grey Gold over two miles at Sandown last time, eventually weakening back into third over two miles.
He steps up to two and a half miles here but may find 11st 12lb too much of a burden in this ground. His stable companion Ulck Du Lin looked to have a bright future when landing some big bets at Ascot in 2012.
The French import has lost his form since and has now dropped to a 3lbs lower mark. It is difficult to find any reason for optimism in his latest display at Cheltenham but he is a course winner here.
Venetia Williams saddles Shangani and bottom weight Elenika. Shangani finished well ahead of Ulck Du Lin at Cheltenham and was a respectable second to the odds-on Une Artiste at Kempton recently.
The eight-year-old is consistent and does have winning form on heavy ground, although not over this distance. The grey Elenika invariably finds a couple too good and is another one with form over shorter distances.
Dashing George is now a 12-year-old but put up a good performance to win by 11 lengths at Fakenham two weeks ago. Elenika blundered away his chance that day and finished fourth and should get a bit closer on 6lbs better terms.
Tara Rose would have a chance if returning to her form when wining at Cheltenham in April. She finished second to Wetherby in October but has been well beaten at Wincanton and Exeter since.
Tom George’s Majala completes the line-up but he has shown little since chasing home Sire De Grugy at a respectful distance at Chepstow in October. He seems to have lost his confidence since falling at Wetherby in December.